Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration of its vehicles culminated with a $1.1 Billion USD settlement of a class action lawsuit in Dec 2012. Call it the cost of customer dissatisfaction.

A recent beef in the Toronto Star called When a new car does not come as advertised about Toyota not meeting its advertised specifications for its Lexus CT200 demonstrates that Toyota still has not understood its customer expectations. When the car specifications in the websites, down-loadable brochures and owners manual do not match the customer specifications, customers will react negatively. With a large order backlog for CT200s, I expect Lexus will see some cancellations of orders as a result of this publicity.

If there ever was a poster child to prove the cause and effect of poor customer satisfaction on loyalty and future purchases, one need look no farther than Toyota. One of major consequences of their customer satisfaction challenges is the loss of prospects. Two recent studies have shown that Toyota did, in fact, take a hit during the worst of its crisis of confidence.

The top 10 Blog Posts for 2010 for Customer Satisfaction and Reputation Management cover a broad range of topics from handling complaints, to social media, to big news stories like Toyota, BP and Haiti.

When things go wrong in your organization, it is far better for the organization to be the one to announce the news. Tell your story rather than allowing someone else to break the news with their story. This will minimize damage control. Read the 7 things you should do right away.

On Aug 26, 2010, Toyota announced two recalls affecting Corollas and Matrixes, one for engine stalling problems and one for the power brake issues. Customers are already outraged at the plans to deal with the power brake recall. These new recalls are negatively affecting Toyota’s Quality Reputation.

Toyota has issued a new recall on July 29, 2010 for its Avalon and Lexus LX 470 brands. The Avalon recall is for the 400,000 Avalons from the 2000 – 2004 models in the US, Canada, China and Saudi Arabia. The recall is designed to repair a problems with flawed steering locks. The Lexus LX 470 recall is for 80,000 LX 470s (also known as Land Cruiser 100s outside the US) from the 2003 – 2007 model years. This recall is related to steering shaft disengagement. This recall tarnishes Toyota’s reputation in a new way.

Customer Satisfaction techniques apply to many stakeholders, not just direct customers. Toyota faced its shareholders for the first time since the start of the recall crisis. The three proven customer satisfaction techniques of acknowledge, apologize and show action, were used with shareholders.

Another blow to the sagging reputation management efforts of Toyota is the latest recall of the Lexus LS Sedans for steering problems. The models affected are the 2010 LS 460, LS 460 L, LS 600h, and the LS 600h and represent about 11,000 cars worldwide. The Lexus ls 600 costs over $100,000 US! The problem seems to be both hardware and software. This latest recall is a further setback to Toyota’s attempts to improve its reputation and customer satisfaction.

Toyota’s Reputation Management efforts took another hit with a new investigation by the US Government National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. It appears Toyota stalled on a recall concerning a Steering Defect for Toyota pickups, T100s, and 4Runner SUVs built between 1989 and 1998. The steering problem had been identified in 2004 and recalls were done in Japan but failed to alert the US authorities for as much as a year. Some positive news for Toyota includes improved sales and profits and the removal of Consumer’s Reports ‘Don’t Buy’ Designation from its 2010 Lexus GX 460 SUV after electronic stability issues were resolved with a software fix.

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